Sunday, October 11, 2009

Outrage Documentary and Gay Rights Activists March on DC

When I decided to watch the HBO documentary Outrage two nights ago on demand, I wasn't paying attention to the news. Consequently, I didn't know until minutes ago about The National Equality March or that it was time for National Coming Out Day and so gay activists would march on Washington today. Neither did I know Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, the gay young man who was beaten to death in 1998 would speak at the rally.

Outrage, written and directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering, is a film about the outing of conservative politicians who are closeted homosexuals but vote against gay rights legislation such as the right to of gays to marry and adopt children.
An official selection of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, OUTRAGE investigates the hidden lives of some of the country's most powerful policymakers - from now-retired Idaho Senator Larry Craig, to former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy - and examines how these and other politicians have inflicted damage on millions of Americans by opposing gay rights. Equally disturbing, the film explores the mainstream media's complicity in keeping those secrets, despite the growing efforts to "out" them by gay rights organizations and bloggers. (HBO page)
The film gives a lot of time to Michael Rogers, who runs the blog blogActive, which is dedicated to outing gay politicians who vote against gay rights. In addition, Outrage includes people who claim Florida Governor Charlie Crist is gay and who discuss former New York mayor Ed Koch's alleged escapades as well as tales about former U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery. Naturally, the film has critics.

As I watched it, I grappled with the ethics of outing gay men or lesbians. It seems that it's something you just don't do. However, proponents of such outing say they are outing hypocrites, that homosexuals politicians who create policy that strips the gay community of rights while hiding in the closet don't deserve protection. I get that. I feel the same way about self-described spiritually evolved poets who behind the scenes are as money grubbing as any pimp, and in some ways I see certain black Republicans the same way, folks who've taken advantage of Affirmative Action but belong to the partyt that opposes it. Not quite the same, but hypocrites annoy most people, I think.

An intriguing point in the film is the charge that Republicans used think tanks to turn homosexuality, in particular gay marriage, into a election swinging issue. They contend that legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a smoke screen to galvanize the homophobic and Evangelical Christian sections of the conservative movement, and that brings us back to today's march.
... Judy Shepard addressed the thousands of gay rights activists in Washington who wrapped up Sunday's National Equality March with a rousing rally at the Capitol.

"No one has the right to tell my son whether or not he can work anywhere. Whether or not he can live wherever he wants to live and whether or not he can be with the one person he loves -- no one has that right," Judy Shepard told the crowd. "We are all Americans. We are all equal Americans, gay, straight or whatever."

The activists marched through Washington, calling for an end to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and equality in marriage.

The National Equality March coincided with National Coming Out Day, and came a day after President Obama delivered a supportive speech to the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights group. (CNN)

No comments: